Prep List

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday May 28, 2009

Yikes, once again! All you world travelers I know….I just don’t know HOW you people take off for continents around the world so easily. I’m NOT a big long traveler, I’m a homebody, a boring homebody.

THIS trip seems huge to get ready for. I’m REALLY thankful Serafina and David are staying while we’re gone. There would NOT be a vegetable garden planted without knowing someone was going to help it stay alive for 2 weeks now that our weather is drying out so quickly.

Friends/neighbors are all trying to be helpful too. Seems we truly are lucky to live where we are………this would never have happened in CA… If we’d left for two weeks there, neighbors would ask, after 10 days, WHO is it that lives there? Haven’t seen them lately…………. I wonder if they died.” That would be it.

It’s the old Corporate Work observation I heard after working in the executive office a few years that still dumbfounds me, but I get it now. When one of the execs died of a heart attack one night, I walked in the office kitchen for coffee to hear two career “climbers” saying, “You hear about _____ ?” Other guy: “Yeah, I wonder who’s gonna get his office.” That was it. Not ONE thought or expression about what happened to him, his family, how their office work would be affected….Just the HOPE one of them could get that nice office with the big windows so they can feel more self important. I realized then just HOW different I was than the corporate folk, and that I, no doubt, would reach my ceiling before they did.

Oh well…………….OFF to look at the next list.

FABULOUS day here, 85 this afternoon.

Almost time to go

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Tuesday May 26, 2009

Yikes! One week from this moment, we will be on the way to the airport for a two week trip to Barcelona and Turin, Italy. I wonder WHO at this point in trip thoughts is ready for their trip. I’m not. But………

*Thanks to the fabulous pre-normal warm dry sunny weather, the garden is 95% done, and corn seeds are all peaking out although they don’t show here:
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*The last of some spring blossoms are losing their intense beauty:
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Even the Kerrea is fading to green:
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*Of course as they fade, the next round of blooming plants are getting ready, like the Hydrangea, a favorite of mine:
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As they’re blooming, roses will be popping, then Dahlias will begin to move on the scene, as will many other beautiful perennials. We have ONE mysterday Dahlia purchased for $1 at a nursery because they had no idea what it was:

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THIS has the most wonderful bloom……………. I’ll have to upload a pic of it when it happens in August.

*The DEER Fence went up yesterday…..early because this weather is drying things out so fast, I am sure the deer would have all the lettuce seedlings, starts decimated on our return.

*The cutting garden is DONE, planted, and up.

*The roses trimmed, fed, with barkdust as a nice bed.

*New loads of cedar chips at the back of the deck make for nice surfaces for the bird feeders.

*On Sunday we had a good time with cousin Nancy and Jay not just at the play, but snacking on some seafood at Jakes. Good times.

Now, then, moving into the current short week………… This week it’s on to more boring things like: Planning what to take, packing practice, italian language practice, HOUSE cleaning, house cleaning.

As an EXTRA reward, we are really looking forward to the arrival of David and Serafina. The last 3-4 days we’re here will be with them, and what a fun time that will be anyway. Not just for us, but three dogs will be commiserating, planning squirrel attacks, romping, and simply enjoying life.

Sounds like posting in a diary may slow down, eh?

Portland Explodes in WARM MAY

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Saturday May 23, 2009

WOW. Both Rodger and I have become SO inspired with the weather (hampered by my little knee problem …………

This MAY being the driest and warmest in our 12 years here, has inspired LOTS of hard work.

I think he IS going to blog on this subject…. so I’ll keep this post at a minimum. A couple of thoughts only tonight.

IF YOU have a dog who’s become a mole expert (HE has caught 10. ME? 4.) Remember, if his FOX like style does NOT catch them in the first POUNCE, you may end up with a bit of a little DIG like this:

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Other items:
AS ALWAYS……….we have a few “volunteer” (where else can you live and “brag” about this?) FIR trees we need to “move” and place at our best spot?
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IT STILL takes YEARS for these tiny little firs to even become noticeable in the yard…………. That’s the beauty of gardening, a fabulous human trait you can learn: patience.

And THESE days………….WE ARE eating lettuce trimmings from the fabulous NEW garden lettuce (BUYING CUT lettuce cannot compare to eating lettuce leaves trimmed from the garden)……………….yum.

But there is SO much going on in a spring NW garden, I can’t help but almost LOVE knowing we WILL be pickling again soon seeing our grapes just beginning to leaf:
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There is nothing so ALIVE as a Northwest Gardener’s Experience….. IF you choose to experience the true feeling of watching an entire yard root, blossom, SLOWLY grow, then seem to rapidly fruit, and ripen, then harvest that effort. IT IS a life experience.

Are we aready for Italy?

Bloged in birding,General Home Life,Hummingbirds by mark Wednesday May 20, 2009

The days count down faster now than two months ago. Europe seemed far away in February. Now, leaving Jun 2 seems like tomorrow. NO, I haven’t even studied what I need to pack. I am excited however.

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*We have spent quite a few hours listening to Pimsleur’s Language Approach so as to become fluent when conversing in Torino with exotic locals, right? I’ve had some recent REAL learning lessons lately, not the ones intended:
1) When I try to say a few of the 30 words I know to Elena or Emilio, they don’t even understand me.
2) IF I do not continue the lesson daily, I quickly forget the new words being thrown in now followed by their expecting you to speak at the pace a local would speak at.
SO. I am not confident I’ll be speaking much Italian when I’m in Torino. Rodger’s still got his hopes up……….. I’ll be saying, “Parla poco L’Italiano, e capisco molto umpa L’Italiano.” BUT I WILL KNOW: “Vorrei mangiare calcosa con me’ ?” .

**THE Fabulous myriad numbers of Evening Grosbeaks continue, partly because I continue to FILL the feeders 3 times a day. After a week of their being here, I’m wondering WHEN they’ll disburse for nesting. They sure seem happy out there every morning about 0830….it’s truly quite noisy in the mornings. I’ll hear a 100 Evening Grosbeaks whistling, and one or two Black Headed Grosbeak males trying to call our their territory…they don’t stand a chance of being heard!

**I walked a short hike on the trail today after a bit of rain last night. I easily forget how GRAND things look in a rain forest at the height of spring. THIS picture is NOTHING special, nothing rare, but it easily communicates the grandness of the GREEN space:
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ANY dog’s lucky who gets to walk here every day, eh?

**Rodger has pulled double duty the past couple of weekends…he almost has EVERY deck pot loaded with baby plants. We are hoping they’ll look a bit more glamorous on our return in a month:
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Even the little water fountain….something I never liked much until I realized that the BIRDS think this thing is a real live stream and LOVE to get in here, bathe, drink….AND…….it’s only about 4 feet from the chair I sit to watch them in. So, it’s not running here because we gotta clean out the moss. That happens today, and these plants TOO will look GOOD around this in a month:
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There has been LOTS of OTHER work done……..have to grab a camera to show that.

**Oh yea, I’m STILL enjoying watching hummingbirds fly in for a drink. It’s fun to know just WHO they are …… here we have a little Rufous female flanked by her larger cousins, two year-round resident female Anna’s:
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**We joined Thomas & Brenda at A Pizza Scholls Sunday pm for a fabulous lunch. THIS IS the Northwest’s finest thin-crust Pizza, a small place, but fun. From there we dropped in at the Backstage Bar of the Bagdad Theater. **Clicking on the “View the Large Back Stage Photo Gallery” link opens a very interesting panorama… THIS BAR was created from the mammoth back-stage cavern where the screens/curtains were all rolled, hoisted up during shows prior to movies arriving. It’s a cavernous fabulous place. The FIRST photo shows a canvas diorama (about 40 x 50 ft) remembering some of the highlights and premieres that came to Portland famous Bagdad in its heyday. Everything from Circus shows, Frankensteins Premiere, Ken Kesey and his bus, et al….it’s pretty fabulous just to sit and figure out just who all the characters are. We had a good time. It’s ALWAYS a good time with Thomas and Brenda.

**Nancy P drove down to see Nancy M for the weekend and WE got to visit with them Saturday. It’s always nice to see your two favorite cousins isn’t it? We had a good time just visiting not to mention a great little spring drive to Helvetia for the fabulous Hamburgers & fries. We’ll be making pickles together this August…..somehow I think this summer’s going to go FAST.

SO. ON to Italy preparations. Must go…………………… We HOPE everyone’s enjoying their own spring….. except for friends in Arizona or Las Vegas, eh? It’s already over a 100!

Evening Grosbeaks

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday May 15, 2009

Our honeymoon with the grosbeaks continues into its third day. This whole flock has been eating almost all day yesterday and today, so we DID get a few better pictures. I wish I could communicate the rich feeling this bird somehow uniquely gives:

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Yep, they may cost a bit in bird seed while they decide just “where” each pair will go to nest, but it’s a rich experience to have them whistling with you through the day.
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Bloged in birding,Hummingbirds,Nature,Pacific Northwest,Scuff Boys by mark Thursday May 14, 2009

NO MATTER WHAT may be going wrong anywhere else, how can one NOT love spring in the Northwest?

Here’s the Smiths current front yard view:
smithfloweryard

YESTERDAY, the most magnificent of ALL our summer visiting birds arrived in a flock of 7 matched pairs……..yes, the EVENING GROSBEAKS came to dine and chirp loudly. The males are quite spectacular both in behavior (gregarious but calm, not so shy, but don’t stir up trouble for anyone else either):
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I swear it is HARD to NOT sit and watch when your feeders are FULL of these fabulous winged wonders especially when you can hear their loud clear whistling calls through the windows. **EVENING GROSBEAKS** **Imagine that times 14…..all whistling at once**

Now. Onto pertinent items.
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ITEM Number ONE: We joined the nether-worlds of “unconnected” and unknowing humans last weekend. FIRST the hard drive crashed on the house PC. THREE hours of phone talk with HP support gave me nothing except: “Your PC is too old for us to have information about, and we can’t figure out your problem, so although you have a lifetime service warranty, WE are afraid you will have to BUY a NEW Machine.

How’s THAT for “support” from one-o-them “multi-national” corporations I detest!
Our problem was compounded the next morning when Rodger decided to transplant a lovely plant from garden to the berm, and, hence, cut through the buried Comcast cable. NO internet for the laptop after that.

Fortunately, we have known of a little one-owner geek business 3 miles from here in St Johns…… We took our machine to Russel Grate @ GRATE Computers, and he had the XP system restored sans any software programs by Monday PM. It has taken 3 days to get everything back in order, but we we’re GLAD to find Russel who did a really CLEAN restore of the PC. Luckily, we had data backed up on an external hard drive….just not organized well.

SO. WE ARE BACK in the REAL world and can investigate ALL our friends secret lives either via your posts or government intervention if Cheney gives us the go-ahead.

ITEM NUMBER TWO:

I experienced an analysis of the MRI done on my still pained KNEE last Monday by the Orthopedic surgeon who repaired my broken leg. I DO have a bit of torn Meniscus, that I completely aggravated by staying on my feet 9 hours Saturday at the St Johns Bizarre, then came home and planted our tomatoes and peppers with Rodger (he truly tried to make me stop)……… next morning I was back on crutches.

Under Doctors orders now, I am NOT to do anything to strain the knee……..NO DOG WALKS DOWN HILLS, NO bending over for the garden, etc.. JUST simple walking on level ground and resting. DANG! IT IS truly hard to do that when Portland’s weather turns warm as it will be again this weekend.

I will be taking it EASY for the next 2 weeks. I plan on the trip to Europe early in June, and will make a decision on a minor surgery on my return…..perhaps some healing will occur, hopefully.

THERE is STILL THRILLING living though. With our cold truly WET stormy spring week, the millions of pollen bearing flowers shut down, insects boarded up, and the hummingbirds by the dozens showed up to feed. We came home Saturday night from St Johns to find 6 of 8 feeders empty….. IMMEDIATELY, we refilled what we could with what food we had stored, and cooked 6 more quarts that we were able to put out later. Today, just 5 days later, I’ve finished cooking my 3rd batch of 6 quarts and will be using the first two this afternoon. THRILLING STUFF to WATCH these DEAR tiny kids visit us for such a SHORT 3-4 months (the Rufous).

Evening throngs could be seen at more than one window as we replaced 2 cup feeders with quart size units:
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It is kind of thrilling to me to now easily recognize our year round Anna’s vs. the Rufous visitors….and see the competition happen:
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THE 3rd cause of the spike in feeding volume has been the appearance of the first babies from nests show up. They are SO different when they first come to public feeding stations. . . . even in appearance. They are not thin streamlined flying machines. They are more puffed up looking, fluffy, unsure, watching EVERYTHING happen around them.
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They are NOT sure about the fight required to compete for the food, so sometimes sit at their spot despite diving attempts from adults. FUN FUN FUN and MORE excitement than I could ever have thought possible when I first saw these tiny birds 12 years ago.

OH WELL………….that’s it for the first post, must continue restoring the PC and have lunch. Lucky for ME AND MAC, friend ARNIE is coming up to walk him in the forest. I’m jealous!

gone fishin

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Friday May 8, 2009

due to an unexpected failure of a certain desktop PC today…… and I mean FAILURE……..

We won’t be posting anything until repairs are made….late next week.

Bloged in General Home Life by mark Thursday May 7, 2009

CAN YOU tell me ANY thing in this life could be more thrilling than watching DEER come to your table to dine with you? These beautiful small herbivores have been “game” to so many predators, and NONE more costly to them than humans hunting or destroying habitat.

This gave me a few goosebumps, THANKS, Nancy:


Deer For Breakfast In TexasWatch more amazing videos here

Well?

weather changes are for the birds

Bloged in General Home Life,Hummingbirds,Scuff Boys by mark Wednesday May 6, 2009

Since the flowering season has been so over-powering, our favorite spring visitors, the hummingbirds have all but vanished. We claimed it was because of the very powerful volume of flowering plants, increasing availability of insects, AND, the fact they have begun their first nesting cycle.

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Well. How do you know if they’re still here…….

The past 3 days have brought us downpours of spring rains, spring winds. ALL of those blooming plants have been drenched over and over until the pollen has nearly been washed out. Days have barely reached fifty degrees. That also means the insect volume has nearly vanished. **AND….it means all those plants we bought last weekend are hiding under plastic in a few places:
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So. Did our theory prove true? Yes.
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I had to cook a gallon of sugar water last night to begin replacing feeders getting emptied. 3 were filled last night and 2 today………. the last two are nearly empty. Woohoo! They ARE HERE! Luckily for them, weather improves beginning tomorrow, so perhaps they’ll get a rest from this frantic feeding cycle.

Is there a reward for my worries and efforts? Of course, seeing these fascinating animals up close over and over and over……………………… AND…………. Rodger’s making Pizza from scratch tonight! I hope it looks JUST like this one from a Pizza Scholls …… about 8:30 tonight:
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